bad grease ad

In the world of B2B marketing, it’s frighteningly common to find a certain style of design, of communication, of interacting with potential customers. It goes something like this: In big, black, industrial sans-serif type, preferably Futura or Helvetica (or perhaps Gill Sans if we’re feeling frisky), we shout . . .

“This product is 12% BETTER than all competitors due to vast new improvements. Buy yours TODAY!!” Below is a giant shot of our polished-and-oh-so-impressive-looking widget, accompanied by 2 paragraphs of 9-point copy listing every feature the engineers fit into the product and 6 other photos of the other products in the line. And underneath it all is a very large, unimaginative logo in blue, black or red. Or some combination of the three.

Why? “Because this is business-to-business marketing” we say. “That’s what our audience expects. We can’t be pastel, or subtle, or elegant.” But of course. I’d forgotten. How silly of me.

See, I thought that we were marketing to human beings. Humans who, once they leave their business-to-business jobs, get in their Toyotas and Chevys, plug in their iPods, go out to eat with their families at Olive Garden, stop at Target for Levis and Energizer batteries, get gas at the BP station, and head home to watch Lost on their Samsung televisions.

toyota ad ipod ad Lost ad

And all of these typical brands – gasp! – interact with your customers as though they were, well, human. Shocking, eh?

So why do we need to adopt some sort of artificial voice, and look, and communication approach, for reaching B2B customers? Of course, your customers may need more information about technical details. But no one said we have to pummel them over the head, or make them swallow facts from a fire hose. Can’t we treat them like the other brands they interact with every day?

After all, your customers are people too. What if we treated them that way?

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